Forget what Thomas Beecham said about Stockhausen’s music – that he reckoned he may once have “trod in some”.
Colin Currie and Nicolas Hodges - Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow
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Last night we heard ample proof that this much-maligned trailblazer of the post-war avant-garde created music that may have been extraordinarily difficult to absorb, but when played by people who understand it, can be genuinely enthralling.
The combined genius of pianist Nicholas Hodges and percussionist Colin Currie, aided by electronic sound specialist Sean Williams made it happen, firstly featuring Hodges himself in Klavierstück X for solo piano.
This is a work, from 1961, which may seem like a menagerie – explosive armfuls of notes, mercurial wisps, vying for position in a stream of gestures and silences. But the utter conviction of Hodges’ performance transformed these thoughts into logic and even, at times, remarkable beauty.
It was the perfect preparation for Kontakte, that seminal work from the same period, where Stockhausen creates both subliminal and tangible moments of contact between the two live instrumentalists and an electronic soundscape that envelops the audience like an inescapable wrap.
Hodges and Currie, armed with a battery of percussion and piano, made thrilling theatre out of it, amplifying the electronic cues with a visceral immediacy that brought every moment to life. The entire presentation was directional, engaging and unquestionable proof that Stockhausen was not only onto something, but way ahead of the game.